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German state releases papers on Nazi-seized Jewish property

FRANKFURT, Dec. 23 (JTA) — German officials have handed over four files from the Nazi era to the country’s Jewish community that may help survivors reclaim their property. The files were found recently in a German government office after the government of the state of Hesse launched a search for documents that provide information about property confiscated from German Jews. The files contain, among other things, information on the household contents of about 100 apartments. The inventory was prepared by Nazi officials after the Jewish tenants were deported in 1941 from Frankfurt to Eastern Europe. The household goods were later auctioned by the Nazi government. The files also show that auction houses and moving companies bid to get the contracts to dispose of Jewish-owned property. The director of Hesse’s Finance Minister’s Office, Thomas Krauder, said the search was launched earlier this month after officials in Hesse became aware of similar efforts in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia to find documents listing Jewish property. The finance minister for the state of Hesse, Karl Starzacher, told the head of Germany’s Jewish community, Ignatz Bubis, that he would pressure his counterparts in the other German states to prioritize Jewish property issues. Starzacher said he hoped that by handing over the documents, he was setting an example for additional documents to be made public in order to aid restitution claims. The state of Hesse also gave copies of the documents to the Frankfurt-based Fritz Bauer Institute, a center for Holocaust research. Starzacher said the state will try to provide funding so that the institute can research all existing documents relating to the “Aryanization” of Jewish property.

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